Environmentalists that Walk the Talk -You Can, Too


Don and Mylene are two of my favourite people in the world. And this is no exaggeration. They may be simple people, with simple ideas, but their enthusiasm and love for the environment never fails to make the green wagon more fun than ever. Dubbed by many as “the Green Crusaders”, they’ve started on their advocacy longer than some of us have started to recite our ABCs.

It has been around three years since the first time I met Don and Mylene, and I remember casually inviting them to give a talk on recycling for my university. I’ve since kept in touch with the lovely couple and last week, my younger sister and I were lucky enough to visit them in their cozy little home on mainland Penang. Being one step closer to knowing Don and Mylene has made my environmental advocacy more personal and in many ways more honest.

“Walk the talk,” they told my sister and I. “No point telling others how to be green if we aren’t ourselves.” So in those few hours that we got to spend with Don and Mylene, I unearthed the following tips that can achieve a greener you, a greener home, and a greener environment!

1. Baby steps.
Indeed, many might be tempted to chide that making your house green is easier said than done. (Or perhaps some of us are just lazy and procrastinators -I blame myself and no one). So, the solution is to take little steps, because in the long run, they amount to a lot. Today, start collecting and recycling scraps of paper, newspapers, magazines, etc which you no longer use. Next month, try recycling plastic bottles, and the month after that, you develop a pattern, a habit… The rest is history.

Mylene shows us how to recycle

2. Research and Development.
I’m not talking about the R&D that they do in universities, companies or corporations, but simply by asking the whys, whats and hows, can make us more conscience of our decisions and how we flourish our homes that serves to protect and enlighten us. Thus, if you buy something that cannot be recycled or composted, ask yourself if you really need the product or thing in your home, or if you can do without it. And if you have plastic bags lying around, as Mylene says, “Treat it like gold” because a plastic bag takes eons (some say thousands, some say billions, some say more years) to degrade into the ground and is toxic to the environment. By prolonging its life-span, you save it from being discarded into the landfill. But if you can do without plastic bags, then do so. Refuse them at the check-out counter in supermarkets.

You may need to do a little exploring of your home in order to practically understand what you need and don’t need, and what you need to do and what you need to stop doing. Find out which part of your house needs to under-go a transformation. (Don and Mylene even recycle their used cooking oil!) Too much waste? Then opt to invest in simple recycling methods and a composting system. Don showed us how he composts at home, and how he uses the soil as fertilizer. It’s cheap, environment-friendly, natural and organic. You can’t go wrong.

Don shows us how to compost

3. After your baby steps, invite others to join in the cause!
Don and Mylene set up recycling bins outside their home with the help of local authorities. In the long run, this encouraged their neighbours to recycle, and recently, Don and Mylene started a Ministry of Environment in their Saint Anne’s Church. Don and Mylene also travel around states giving talks, and have a website that anyone can access for more information.

4. Hit two birds with one stone.
I remember Mylene using this adage many, many times and until today, it echoes in my head. Not only have Don and Mylene gotten their neighbourhood to recycle, but on their tours and talks around the country, companies, hospitals, churches, and neighbourhoods have joined in. From the money they received from recycling in their neighbourhood, they’ve donated them to different charities; a different charity for every month of the year! But Don and Mylene exert that money is not the point that they’re trying to make. -It’s about saving the environment… But, saving the environment and advocating for human rights at the same time? It makes you think, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

When Don & Mylene were giving a talk in my university; the first time we met!

5. Keep your eyes and ears (and heart) open.
On the visit, I realized how much Don & Mylene are well-versed in various issues, and not just the environment, but politics, society, history, you name it! Advocating for the environment does not go alien from your studies and profession. “You are the future,” they told my sister and I, and I shivered for a moment. The thought is scary, as the future Prime Minister and ministers could well be my own classmates (many of which who haven’t grasp the dire issues in society, let alone the environment issue). I realize how important it is to prepare. -Don and Mylene suggest keeping an Idea Book, where writing ideas and comments on your surroundings can help you become more aware and critical on issues, and perhaps provide a simple blue-print in assisting you in acting upon them.

The environment is all about balance and co-existence. I may not believe in Darwinism, but I believe that we need to stop fighting with the environment, because we’re part of it. If we understand, appreciate and abide by that, then everything will come into place. It’s like someone wise and dear who once told me, “How much friendship would we have if we loved people first before animals, and before the environment? Just enough for everyone to be happy, and that’s a whole lot! And then by our love for ourselves, our love for people, animals and the environment would be healed naturally.”

Indeed, it is people like Don and Mylene that have shown me how much friendship one can give to another… Be it human, animal or environment…

And the answer is, limitless.

Thank you, Don and Mylene.

(photos credited to Liani MK)


4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Adah on June 21, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    Reminds of that part in Catholic ordinations that says “believe what you read, teach what you believe and practice what you teach”.


    • Posted by kookaburra on June 22, 2010 at 7:35 am

      I didn’t realize you posted this. That’s beautiful, Adah… Thank you for your comment. 🙂


  2. great to see you have a blog now. =)

    it’s not that hard to recycle but it takes lot of effort to do so for some people. Convenience is the word that kills environmentalism in a way.


    • Posted by kookaburra on June 22, 2010 at 11:21 am

      How true on that last sentence! But then again, it can go both ways… Some might claim it’s more convenient to recycle —especially in the long run, for our planet! The way I see it, it’s all word play. If you have passion, then it’s a go.


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